Parents often bring their children to the doctor when they are sick, but regular checkups also are important.
These checkups are called well-child visits. They begin shortly after babies are born and can continue until age 21.
“The (visits) are not just the time to get vaccines,” said Katherine Wu, M.D., FAAP, a pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital. “These visits are opportunities for families to strengthen their relationship with their (pediatrician) by getting answers to questions about everything from eating and growing to learning and behavior issues.”
During these visits, the doctor will evaluate your child’s development, measure height and weight, check vital functions, conduct vision and hearing screenings, and do a physical exam. The doctor can refer you to specialists, when needed.
Pediatricians also will look at your child’s mental health. The doctor may talk with the child or adolescent about school experiences, relationships with friends, family issues, daily stress and healthy habits.
Benefits of well-child visits include:
- Prevention: Children receive vaccines to prevent illness. Parents also can talk about nutrition and safety in the home and at school.
- Tracking growth and development: Parents can see how much their child has grown since the last visit. Parents and doctors can discuss a child’s milestones, social behaviors and learning.
- Raising any concerns: Before a visit, parents should write down topics they want to discuss with the doctor such as development, behavior, sleep, eating or getting along with family members.
- Team approach: Regular visits create strong relationships among the parent, doctor and child. This team approach helps improve the child’s physical, mental and social health.
Parents also should tell the doctor about their child’s successes. These visits are a chance to learn as much as you can about the best ways to help your child grow and thrive.
“Ask anything and everything,” Dr. Wu said. “There’s no such thing as a silly question, and no concern is too small or unimportant.”
For more information about well-child visits and how often to schedule them, visit HealthyChildren.org at http://bit.ly/3HKoJEw.